The recently passed Cybercrime Law (R.A. 10175) is “frightening and chilling”.
So points out Fr. Joaquin Bernas: The law threatens “freedom of expression and privacy of communication but also the sacred right of people to be secure… against government intrusion.” Among others, the new law allows for the search and seizure of private property upon mere prima facie evidence as determined by the Dept. of Justice. Such seizure is now only allowed upon a court warrant. Facebook, emails and twitter are no longer safe.This is the stuff of KGB and the Gestapo.
DOJ. Sec. De Lima, the former Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, vowed her office will not abuse its discretion. Unfortunately she does not guarantee the same of her successors nor of the underworld of fiscals, prosecutors and judges who will take this law to town.
R.A. 10175 has made “online libel” a crime even as the UN Human Rights Council calls for libel to be decriminalized. Its sponsors claim the law will “level the playing field” between (responsible) journalists of traditional media and (irresponsible) bloggers et al. of the digital space. Yet the new law increases eight-fold the penalty for crimes like libel when committed online as when committed offline. Is this their definition of level?
And there is more but these have been sufficiently laid out in the various petitions filed with the Supreme Court. These have been joined by Senators Guingona (the only one to have opposed the bill), Alan Cayetano and Escudero. The latter at least have the courage and decency to admit to their mistake.
Unfortunately, Malacanang is not man enough to do likewise. Worse, it is dismissive. Spokesperson Valtes asks are we not ‘a little paranoid”? The Legislature, she assures us, has studied the bill at length. Her presumption is all 309 Congressmen and Senators read its final version in the same way, I guess, they read the Corona Articles of Impeachment. Oh, to be young and innocent again.
She also assures us the Office of the President vetted the statute so we should be fine. With this kind of quality control should we be “a little paranoid”?